Gérard Souzay

Biography

Born: December 8, 1918; Angers, France   Died: August 17, 2004; Cap d'Antibes  
Gérard Souzay, whose real surname was Tisserand, studied philosophy in college although the family was musical (his sister was soprano Geneviève Touraine). He was a student at the Paris Conservatoire from 1940 to 1945, where he studied voice with Vanni Marcoux and Claire Croiza, but principally took master classes with the foremost French song recitalist of that period, Pierre Bernac (Poulenc's longtime companion), as well as Lotte Lehmann before Read more and after WWII. Souzay made his first recording the same year as his professional debut, 1944. After an official Paris debut in 1945, he participated in celebrations of Fauré's centenary in London. By then 27, he was the first of his generation after WWII to give song recitals internationally, preceding his younger colleague Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (b. 1925) by several years.

The French baritone made his U.S. debut in New York City's Town Hall in 1950, but did not sing opera until 1957, at Aix-en-Provence: Cimarosa's Il matrimonio segreto and Purcell's Dido and Aeneas. In 1960 Stokowski invited him to sing the title-role in Monteverdi's Orfeo with the New York City Center (later New York State) Opera. In 1962 he made his first appearance as Golaud in Pelléas et Mélisande at Rome under Ernest Ansermet, then repeated the role with the Paris Opéra in a performance celebrating the centenary of Debussy's birth. Eventually he sang at the Met in 1965, as Count Almaviva in The Marriage of Figaro, followed that same year by Glyndebourne (although illness limited him to a single performance), as well as debuts with the Vienna Staatsoper and Munich Opera. Other roles included Gluck's Orfeo, Méphistophélès in Berlioz's Damnation of Faust, Pollux in Rameau's Castor et Pollux, Massenet's Garrido in La Navarraise and Lescaut in Manon, even Wolfram in Wagner's Tannhäuser.

However, recitals and orchestral concerts remained the principal focus of Souzay's long and distinguished career, which included annual recitals at the Salzburg Festival between 1959 and 1963. Proficient in 15 languages, he introduced Baroque music before the "original instrument" era -- especially music by Lully, Rameau, Handel, and Bach. He sang German as mellifluously and idiomatically as Fischer-Dieskau, his chief rival (whose intellectual word-stresses became increasingly intrusive), although Souzay's voice was lighter and smaller. His repertory embraced Russian, Spanish, Italian, even British songs. French chansons, withal, were his métier, beginning with Gounod, Fauré and their nineteenth century colleagues, but especially the Impressionist composers -- Duparc, Debussy, Ravel -- and the saucier Poulenc. Beginning in 1954, just as Poulenc partnered with Bernac until his death, Dalton Baldwin was Souzay's pianist, although not exclusively. They built an audience worldwide among audiences that had known only Italian or German opera. His presence onstage was elegantly handsome, and he sang with unforced, but nonetheless expressive, intense artistry that quietened even chronic coughers.

According to a comprehensive discography published in 1990 by Greenwood Press, he recorded over 750 titles on almost 50 labels -- 535 different catalog numbers -- ranging from 78-rpm discs to CD reissues, and was awarded France's Grand Pix du Disque three times. Apart from operas, however, he infrequently recorded with others, only recording duets with Germaine Lubin, Elly Ameling, and his sister Geneviève. In 1985, Souzay joined the music faculty at Indiana University in Bloomington, but also taught at the University of Texas in Austin starting in 1986, where Stephen Mims made a documentary film about him, Souzay: A Life in Art. In addition, indefatigably, he gave master classes at the Juilliard School in New York, and in Paris, Holland, England, and Japan, where he was a special favorite of audiences in German as well as French music. Read less
Browse 26-45 of 45 Available Recordings
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  • 26.
    The Early Years - French Melodies / Gerard Souzay
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 438964 Release Date: 10/26/2009   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Albert Roussel,  César Franck,  Georges Bizet,  Emmanuel Chabrier  ... 
    Performer:  Gérard Souzay,  Dalton Baldwin
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  • 27.
    Schubert: Die Schöne Müllerin/ Gérard Souzay, Dalton Baldwin
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 420850 Release Date: 03/17/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Schubert
    Performer:  Dalton Baldwin,  Gérard Souzay
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  • 28.
    Schubert: Lieder / Gérard Souzay, Dalton Baldwin
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 422418 Release Date: 01/30/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Schubert
    Performer:  Gérard Souzay,  Dalton Baldwin
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  • 29.
    Berlioz: L'enfance Du Christ, Les Nuits D'été / Munch, Reiner
    Label: Rca Victor Gold Seal   Catalog: 61234 Release Date: 12/05/2007   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Performer:  Florence Kopleff,  Cesare Valletti,  Giorgio Tozzi,  Gérard Souzay  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Munch,  Fritz Reiner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New England Conservatory Chorus,  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
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  • 30.
    Gérard Souzay Vol 3 - Recordings 1944-1953
    Label: Hafg   Catalog: 10323 Release Date: 10/22/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel
    Performer:  Gérard Souzay
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  • 31.
    Fauré: Lieder Vol 2 / Bernac, Bonelli, Doria, Guillamat, Marcelin, Et Al
    Label: Hafg   Catalog: 40037 Release Date: 06/12/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gabriel Fauré
    Performer:  Pierre Bernac,  Emile Marcelin,  Ninon Vallin,  Renée Doria  ... 
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  • 32.
    Fauré: Lieder Vol 3 / Bourdin, Danco, Guillamat, Lubin, Et Al
    Label: Hafg   Catalog: 40038 Release Date: 06/12/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gabriel Fauré
    Performer:  Suzanne Danco,  Gérard Souzay,  Ninon Vallin,  Ginette Guillamat  ... 
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  • 33.
    Gounod: Lieder / Battistini, Baugé, Cuénod, Danco, Et Al
    Label: Hafg   Catalog: 40040 Release Date: 06/12/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Gounod
    Performer:  Georges Thill,  Elisabeth Rethberg,  Camille Mauranne,  Suzanne Danco  ... 
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  • 34.
    Arie Antiche - Anselmi, Berger, Caruso, Danco, Et Al
    Label: Hafg   Catalog: 10321 Release Date: 05/14/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alessandro Parisotti,  Tommaso Giordani,  Johann Paul A. Martini,  Giovanni Paisiello  ... 
    Performer:  Hina Spani,  Joseph Schwarz,  Miguel Villabella,  Erna Berger  ... 
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  • 35.
    Art Of Gerard Souzay 2
    Label: Video Artists International   Catalog: 4360 Release Date: 10/10/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jaime Ovalle,  Gabriel Fauré,  Henri Duparc,  Richard Strauss  ... 
    Performer:  Dalton Baldwin,  Gérard Souzay
    Conductor:  Jean Deslauriers
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Radio Canada Orchestra
    DVD: $33.99
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  • 36.
    Fauré: Mélodies / Elly Ameling, Gerard Souzay
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 92792 Release Date: 01/24/2006   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Gabriel Fauré
    Performer:  Dalton Baldwin,  Elly Ameling,  Gérard Souzay
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  • 37.
    Art Of Gerard Souzay
    Label: Video Artists International   Catalog: 4312 Release Date: 08/09/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Christoph W. Gluck,  Gabriel Fauré,  Henri Duparc,  Charles Gounod  ... 
    Performer:  Gérard Souzay
    DVD: $28.99
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  • 38.
    Famous Voices Of The Past - Gérard Souzay
    Label: Preiser Records   Catalog: 93440 Release Date: 02/22/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jean-Philippe Rameau,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  André Campra,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Gérard Souzay,  Jacqueline Bonneau
    Conductor:  Robert Cornman,  Edouard von Lindenberg
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre de la Société du Conservatoire Paris
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  • 39.
    100 Best Opera Classics
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 862112 Release Date: 02/15/2005   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Carl Maria von Weber,  Gioachino Rossini,  Richard Wagner,  Georges Bizet  ... 
    Performer:  Gary Lakes,  Maria Callas,  Tito Gobbi,  Nicolai Gedda  ... 
    Conductor:  James Conlon,  Alceo Galliera,  Lamberto Gardelli,  James Levine  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Philharmonic Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 40.
    Bach: 13 Sacred Cantatas / Winschermann, Deutsche Bachsolisten
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 454346 Release Date: 09/04/2002   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Arno Schönstedt,  Gérard Souzay,  Helmut Winschermann,  Elly Ameling  ... 
    Conductor:  Helmut Winschermann
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  German Bach Soloists,  Netherlands Vocal Ensemble Choir,  Westfälische Kantorei Herford Choir  ... 
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  • 41.
    Schumann: Lieder Recital / Gerard Souzay, Dalton Baldwin
    Label: Testament   Catalog: 1209 Release Date: 09/01/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Robert Schumann
    Performer:  Gérard Souzay,  Dalton Baldwin
    On sale! $25.98
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  • 42.
    Treasures Of Baroque Opera / Sutherland, Horne, Baker, Et Al
    Label: London/Decca Opera Gala Series   Catalog: 458217 Release Date: 06/09/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jean-Philippe Rameau,  Thomas Augustine Arne,  Niccolò Piccinni,  George Frideric Handel  ... 
    Performer:  Gérard Souzay,  John Shirley-Quirk,  Dame Joan Sutherland,  Harry Dilley  ... 
    Conductor:  Paul Bonneau,  Raymond Leppard,  Anthony Lewis,  Francesco Molinari-Pradelli  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Symphony Orchestra,  English Chamber Orchestra,  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra  ... 
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  • 43.
    Fauré: Complete Songs / Elly Ameling, Gerard Souzay
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 64079 Release Date: 01/23/1992   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Gabriel Fauré
    Performer:  Elly Ameling,  Dalton Baldwin,  Gérard Souzay
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  • 44.
    Poulenc: Melodies / Ameling, Gedda, Parker, Senechal, Souzay, Baldwin
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 64087 Release Date: 01/23/1992   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Francis Poulenc
    Performer:  Dalton Baldwin,  Gérard Souzay,  Michel Sénéchal,  Elly Ameling  ... 
    Recommendation
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